When I consider the breakup and personal associations with the word ‘stranger’, I find myself quite conflicted. Yes, I know what a stranger is, in the traditional sense, it’s someone my Mum told me not to talk to, and in a more nuanced sense, it’s the environment that makes up much of Simon Fraser University: a multiplicity of strangers. This aside, when I reflexively engage with the essence of the meaning behind ‘strangers’, I find myself entering an existential crisis, as I can confidently two varying levels of strangers in my life.
As I have described the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ as #1 association of the word, there is a secondary association that leads me down the tailspin of impasse, and those comprise of those strangers who really are not – stay with me. I’m talking about your bus driver, your barista, or as Jenny Slate shares, her ham man. These are modern interactions in which it feels like the height of our digital era’s isolation is reached. The people we see, we know, we are surrounded by, but yet, we know nothing about them – and whose fault is that?
I formally considered myself to be quite socially sacrificial when I saw someone I know. It may be awkward, I may have barely known you, but if I saw you down the street, you wouldn’t have gotten away with a soft-nod. Nope. We. Were. Going. To. Chat. However, this is something I feel I’ve lost. Perhaps from external and internal “busyness”, but it’s something that I find to be such a positive personality trait, and something I intend to work on, and bring back into my life. Meaning, examining the work of Hamblin, was quite inspiring. Starting his article off with offering readers to enter elevators facing ‘backwards’ aka towards the wall of the elevator, to me, is hilarious. This is the type of content you only get by interacting with strangers, it’s wild. The comedic essence of talking to strangers, for me, is what sparks joy, and much the reason I chose not to let ‘strangers’ of my past merely walk past me.
As a mission of mine to revitalize this part of myself I feel I have lost, yet one that I love, I am taking it upon myself through the accountability of this blogpost, to reinitiate this into my daily practice; after all, I do take an ungodly amount of elevators.